"Me and the other trainers often share our personal experiences and help the child participants to see that things are possible" Fred, Motivation Project Manager, Uganda

Wednesday 15th June 2016

Meet Fred Semakula. An expert in inclusive education, previously Fred taught as deputy head teacher at a primary school for children with disabilities. Today, Fred is Motivation’s Project Manager in Uganda and is a truly invaluable member of our team with a personal journey that continues to inspire many. Read his story in his own words...

Fred's story...

"When I was a child, my dream was to become an engineer. However at thirteen years of age, my life was turned upside down.  One Sunday morning I fell from a tree and sustained a back injury of T12. Following a yearlong hospital stay in rural Uganda, I was discharged without a wheelchair and without any information on how to manage health complications associated with my spinal cord injury.

Looking back, my teenage years were far harder than they should have been.

School life was difficult; I used to fear having a drink because I did not know how to manage my bladder or bowel. This lack of fluid often resulted in urine infections which caused me to miss classes. I also suffered from pressure sores because I did not have the skills to prevent or treat them.

I was isolated from other children my own age and used to feel so frustrated with life - I think I lost hope of ever becoming a useful person in the community.

Seven years later, I attended my first Motivation Peer Training course in Zimbabwe which marked a real turning point in my life. The training course helped to raise my self-esteem and since then I’ve never turned back. I was so inspired by the course that I decided to become a Peer Trainer myself. Peer Training empowers disabled children by helping them to fully understand their disability. Children also learn skills that help them stay healthy and prevent possible causes of death, such as pressure sores and urine infections.

Me and the other trainers often share our personal experiences and help the child participants to see that things are possible.

I am now employed, feel useful in my community and can look after my wife and twelve children. Most importantly, I have the skills to train others in turn increasing the number of positive role models in communities. What I am most proud of is how we are trying to tackle the real challenges faced by people with disabilities in local communities.

Many of these are the same obstacles that I faced myself as a young boy with spinal cord injury. To train others with similar challenges and see their lives change in a positive way brings me great happiness.

Want to find out more about our work in Uganda? Click here.

Images © M. Grayson

You can watch our When I Grow Up appeal video part 2 below!